It's been one of the most enduring standoffs of the 1993 blasts trial. While Yakub, brother of blasts mastermind Tiger Memon, has claimed that he surrendered to Indian authorities on July 28, 1994, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has maintained that they arrested him at Delhi station on August 5 that year.
The judgment copy that is being delivered by Judge Pramod Kode to the convicts raises doubts about the CBI claim.
Yakub, a chartered accountant, was sentenced to death for his role in the blasts conspiracy and for procuring funds for the attacks. He had always maintained that he was innocent and claimed that he was warned by Tiger "not to become like Gandhi and return to India, that I would be branded a terrorist".
On conviction, an enraged Yakub had shouted at the judge: "I forgive you for you know not what you do."
Judge Kode's order says: "Since the search for Yakub was not effected at a place near where he was apprehended, it creates a serious doubt…" Thus, it seems to support Yakub's claim of surrender.
The order adds: "The Memons acquired property, started a business by the name of Home Land Builders, acquired fictitious qualifications to lead a comfortable life in Pakistan, after causing the blasts in Bombay. They were determined not to return to India in their original identities. However, Yakub being apprehended at Delhi station… A person living such a life cannot have appeared there from thin air. It is also absurd that the investigating agency did not carry out investigations regarding the same."
Besides, the order added, "two of the witnesses used in the search for Yakub were not independent persons and were working under the police."
Yakub's lawyer Subhash Kanse said: "We have always said Yakub surrendered. After 14 years, this has been proved true." Kanse said Yakub had brought with him several documents, which he submitted to the authorities, but which were never brought before the court. Only the Pakistani passports were submitted. "This shows that the prosecution wanted to present a different picture," Kanse said.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was surprised at the court's observation. "Yakub would have destroyed the
Pakistani passports had he surrendered," he said.
However, the judgment doubts this too, saying there was ample room for planting articles — like the passports — on Yakub.